Difference between a socialist and a Democratic Socialist

To the Editor:

In his State of the Union speech, President Trump said that America would never become socialist, apparently responding to the fact that several Democratic Socialists now occupy seats in the new Congress. I don’t know what Trump has in mind when he uses the term socialist, because there are different varieties of socialism. What they all have in common is a valuing of fairness and reasonable equality. Classical socialism called for government ownership of the means of production, and perhaps that is what socialism means to Trump, but Democratic Socialists of America have shown little interest in that approach.

What Democratic Socialists have talked about are things like universal health care (Medicare for All), a livable minimum wage, and free post-secondary education (a key to equality of opportunity). In addition, they call for the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes. Some Democratic Socialists would return to 70 percent as the top marginal rate for millionaires and billionaires, which was in effect until the 1980s. They would also regulate corporations to make sure they operate in the public interest.

The president used Venezuela as the horrible example of what happens when a country goes socialist. But Venezuela’s situation has little to do with its socialist policies and more to do with Pesident Maduro’s mismanagement and U.S. sanctions. American Democratic Socialists do not look to Venezuela or Cuba or the old Soviet Union as their models; rather, they hold up Scandinavia, which has a mixture of socialism and capitalism. Surveys of peoples’ happiness tend to rank Scandinvians at the top.

At any rate, Democratic Socialists are democratic. They do not propose imposing anything on the American people that the majority does not want. They will argue for their program (see above), and then let the voters decide.

Larry Lowther



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